Match.com, one of largest dating services, said it had been assessing online background checks for six years and concluded they offered no extra protection."is disappointed New Jersey has enacted a flawed and unconstitutional law and we will explore opportunities to challenge it," a company statement said.Even sponsors of the New Jersey bill conceded it was imperfect, but suggested it would at least make online daters more aware of security concerns.
A Cleveland firefighter, George Greer, was indicted last June for raping a woman he met through an Internet dating site.
An online dater in New York City, actor/musician Franca Vercelloni, said background screenings "couldn't hurt matters" but should not be a reason for dropping one's guard."You're not going to rely on what you learn from the online profile anyway," said Vercelloni, who's in her late 20s.
"Dating in New York City is just as hard as trying to get a job or an apartment.
You have to take a risk."The New Jersey law, similar to ones considered in other states, will require online dating services to notify their customers in the state whether criminal background screenings have been conducted.
As Valentine's Day approaches, all is not lovey-dovey in the high-stakes online dating industry.
The contentious issue of the moment - pitting one of the three biggest companies, True.com, against its major rivals - is whether online dating services can enhance their clients' safety by conducting criminal background screenings of would-be daters.
Last month, New Jersey became the first state to enact a law requiring the sites to disclose whether they perform background checks.
- the only large online dating service that already does such screenings - was elated by its successful lobbying and hopes other states will follow suit."The online dating industry tends to get a real bad rap, because of criminal activity," said True.com's founder and chief executive, Herb Vest.
"If we were to clean up, there's hordes of off-line singles who'd come online to find their soul mate."The pitch appeals to women like Jayne Hitchcock of York, Maine, who was victimized by three years of online harassment and cyberstalking in late '90s after someone assumed her identity and sent sexually explicit messages.